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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 17:35 GMT
West: Cook my waste
Scott Ellis
The Politics Show West

Cooking waste preferable to landfill?

The government has launched a look into how Britain is going to power itself for the next 50 years. The door is still open for the nuclear industry, and of course renewables will always play a part.

But if we do not sort out our nation's energy needs then we will have to import power, and you only have to look at the Russian gas crisis to realise you are best off being close to self sufficient when it comes to watts and volts.

Which is why an unassuming corner of an industrial estate in Avonmouth is currently attracting massive interest.

Not least from a 100 councils across the UK, and indeed the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Compact Power is taking in waste, cooking it at very high temperatures and in the process converting it into energy.

At the moment, they take low level hospital waste - such as rubber gloves and surgical face masks.

But they have planning permission to go large - and take in 30,000 tonnes of Bristol's rubbish every year, and convert into enough electricity to power 1,000 homes.

But, the expansion relies on a 5m grant from DEFRA, which has earmarked the cash.

Compact Power has waited nine months, and Lib Dem Councillor Gary Hopkins of Bristol City Council is starting to lose patience.

"The government keeps telling us to hurry up and come up with new ways of recycling our rubbish.

And here we are ready to go with a new idea, it is proven, there is planning permission.

"What is slowing us down are Ministers - who need to get a move on."

Compact Power is not saying much, since contracts like this are confidential.

But their marketing manager Richard Hobbs told the BBC "We are getting impatient.

"We have been running this small scale operation for years, and would have liked to have expanded yesterday. But that is business, you have to be patient."

Councillor Hopkins is worried that the whole project may end up in Exeter - where Compact Power had hoped to set up before being overruled by Devon County Council planners.

If Devon changes its mind, the DEFRA money may go there instead.

The Parliamentary secretary for DEFRA is Ben Bradshaw, who's constituency is Exeter.

Councillor Hopkins said, "I'm sure the minister wouldn't mix constituency matters with anything else.

"But I have requested a meeting with him, to discuss the whole business." No one at the MP's office was available for comment.

For their part DEFRA says "Contracts are at the due diligence stage and will be signed as soon as the process has been completed."

For Councillor Hopkins and Compact Power, that moment cannot come soon enough.

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Deadline nears for waste comments
26 Jan 06 |  Southern Counties
11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show


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